Kayak for Sabercats: Paddlers approach Rockford

Jake Boucher (left) and Jon Gress on the Rock May 16. (Photo provided)

Kayak for Sabercats: Day 8

By Jim Hagerty
Staff Writer

A night at Hononegah Forest Preserve is all that stands between Jake Boucher, Jon Gress and Garrett Feik and their arrival in Rockford Wednesday, May 21.

When they paddle into Rockford, the men will be 134 miles from their ultimate destination: Rock Island, Ill., where the Rock River empties into the Mississippi.

When Boucher checked in with The Rock River Times Tuesday, May 20, they were at Riverside Park, in Beloit, Wis., enjoying lunch provided by Brian Kramer, chef at Backyard Grill and Bar. Kramer has been following the trip online and thought his “El Diablo Pulled Pork” would hold the men over until they set up camp down river.

Boucher, Feik and Gress slept at Happy Hollow Park Monday night and hit the water early Tuesday to prepare to portage near dams in Beloit and Rockton, Ill.

“It would have been a really long portage in Beloit, so (Rock River Trail Coordinator) Greg Farnham arranged a ride for us around the dam,” Boucher said.

The men plan to get an early start Wednesday, and will check in with the The Rock River Times when they approach Rockford. As of this report, they are scheduled to arrive at the Prairie Street Brewerhouse at 12:30 p.m. From there, they will be transported around the Fordham Dam to Universal Hovercraft, 1218 Buchanan St., Rockford, where they will ride a hovercraft before continuing their trip. The public is welcome to come and meet the paddlers.

The trip marks the first since the Rock River Trail was named a national water trail in 2013. It is also the first on record in the last 20 years.

Rockford photographer Nels Akerlund paddled the river from start-to-finish in the early ’90s, and recounted the trip in pictures in Our Rock River (Chelsea, 1995).

Follow the trip at facebook.com/RockRiverStart2Finishrockrivertimes.comand rockrivertrail.com.

Send donations to:

Maranatha Baptist University Sabercats
745 West Main St.
Watertown, WI 53094

Online donations can be made HERE. The goal is to raise $10,000 for new uniforms for the school’s athletic teams and paint the gymnasium.

Following is the trip’s itinerary.

Editor’s note: The trip began May 13 at Horicon Marsh, where the Rock River rises near the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area. Boucher, Feik and Garrett reached Hustisford, Wis., just south of Lake Sinissippi, May 14.

   River miles to Rock Island
1 Hustisford 285
2 Lebanon 267.9
3 Ixonia 246.2
4 Watertown 232.2
5 Jefferson 215.6
6 Indianford 193
7 Janesville 170.5
8 Rockton 154.4
9 Rockford 134.2
10 Byron 120.2
11 Oregon 103.5
12 Dixon 91.6
13 Como 67.3
14 Prophetstown 50.5
15 Erie 35.2
16 Barstow 18
17 Rock Island 0